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Among savages

Experimental Documentary, 14:14 Min, 2020

Among Savages tries to obstruct and deconstruct the western gaze on the savage and its consequences. Alternating and overlapping archive footage and self produced image material filmed in the slide-archive of the University in Hamburg (Dia-Archiv des Kunstgeschichtlichen Seminars der Universität Hamburg) and postcards from the time the video collage is then accompanied by a narration about an American named Carlos Poppe, who produced shrunken heads for profit. The appropriation and commodification of the ritual practice to the point of intentional killings, literal head-hunting, in order to meet the increased economic demand for heads from tourists and collectors poses the question of who is actually the savage? At the same time – and most cynically – the viewer is confronted with documentary and written narratives from the 1940s presenting and stressing the superiority of the white male ethnographers work.

The work opens up a space for complex connections and links between narratives of othering and categorizing the other as savage, uncivilised or exotic, of which the latter until this day, remains a popular category in archives of institutions and museums.

Special thanks: University of Hamburg for providing access to the slide archive of the art history department

Among savages 8.44 min.